Sunday Night Football Player Props: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers

By in NFL on
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Needless to say, this week’s Sunday Night Football contest between the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers looked a little more interesting before the season began. Ben Roethlisberger has looked like a shell of himself amid the Steelers’ 2-3 start. The Seahawks, meanwhile, will start backup QB Geno Smith after Russell Wilson sustained a serious injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand in last week’s loss to the Rams. Wilson had surgery on the finger, and he’s expected to miss the next few games.

We don’t often see matchups between sub-.500 teams on Sunday Night Football, but we’ll have to make do this week. Online NFL sportsbooks have the Steelers listed as 5.5-point favorites at home in this one. Pittsburgh did pick up a big win last week over Denver, but this game could certainly go either way.

If you think the standard betting line is tough to peg, perhaps we can interest you in some player props instead. Player prop lines tend to be fairly soft, so let’s see if we can dig up a little value ahead of Seahawks-Steelers.

Geno Smith Total Passing Yards

  • Over 224.5 yards (-115)
  • Under 224.5 yards (-115)

I don’t think I was aware that Geno Smith was still in the NFL until he came on for the injured Wilson in last Thursday’s loss to the Rams. Smith, who flamed out with the Jets before bouncing around the league as a backup, is set to make his first start since 2017. He didn’t look terrible after entering the game last week, completing 10 of his 17 attempts for 131 yards with a touchdown. However, he did throw a terrible interception on what could’ve been a game-winning drive on the very first play, which effectively killed any hope the Seahawks may have had for pulling the comeback.

Obviously, It’s Hard to Know What to Expect Here

We have never seen Smith start a game as a member of the Seahawks, and he’s never been particularly good at this level. He didn’t even complete 60 percent of his throws in either of his two seasons as the Jets’ starter, though it stands to reason that he’s improved somewhat since his rookie and sophomore campaigns.

We’re also dealing with an over/under of just 224.5 yards in this one, which is awfully low for a QB in today’s NFL.

We also have no idea what the Seahawks’ backfield will look like. Chris Carson is questionable after missing the last game. If he’s out again, we can expect a healthy diet of Alex Collins with a dusting of DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer out of the backfield. Collins didn’t have much success on the ground last week. If Seattle is once again slow to get going on the ground, they may have no choice but to rely more heavily on Smith to shoulder a heavy load.

Still, it’s hard to imagine Seattle giving their backup QB too much responsibility in this one. I’d expect a relatively conservative game plan, especially if this turns into a low-scoring affair. The Steelers rank just 19th in pass yards allowed so far this season, but their defense hasn’t been at full strength, either. There is still plenty of talent on that side of the football for this team, especially now that TJ Watt is back healthy.

Anything can happen, but the under feels safer than the over with Geno.

Smith Total Passing Yards –Under 224.5 yards (-115)

Ben Roethlisberger Total Passing Yards

  • Over 256.5 yards (-115)
  • Under 256.5 yards (-115)

As mentioned, Big Ben is off to a rough start. The 39-year-old looks like you would expect most QBs of his age to look. Tom Brady has probably spoiled it for the other aging quarterbacks around the league. Through five games, Roethlisberger has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,286 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. Most notably, his yards per attempt average has remained among the lowest in football. Ben is averaging just 6.6 yards per throw, which ranks 26th in the NFL.

So, he’s become Captain Checkdown at an advanced age. As a result, it should come as no surprise to see that rookie running back Najee Harris actually leads the Steelers in targets (39). That puts him just ahead of Diontae Johnson (37) and Chase Claypool (35), while the injured Juju Smith-Schuster (28) has fallen down the pecking order a bit.

Roethlisberger has topped 256.5 passing yards twice through five weeks, and he’s still dealing with a couple of injuries. He missed practice on Wednesday due to his pectoral and hip issues, but he is still expected to suit up on Sunday night.

While Ben’s best days are clearly behind him, the Steelers’ offense is still in a good spot. The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the league’s worst pass defenses over the past couple of seasons. Seattle ranked 30th in pass yards allowed per game last season, and they’re right back there again this year. However, they’ve gotten even worse. The Seahawks yielded about 278 passing yards per game in 2020. So far in 2021, that number has leaped to 305.6.

It’s not easy to trust Roethlisberger to rack up a ton of passing yards given how frequently he checks it down, but he should have plenty of opportunities in this one. Seattle hasn’t been stopping anybody. For all of Ben’s struggles, the Steelers still throw the ball as much as anyone. Pittsburgh has passed on 67.1 percent of their plays this season, which is the third-most in football behind only Tampa Bay and Miami.

Bet the over on 256.5 passing yards for Big Ben in Week 6.

Roethlisberger Total Passing Yards –Over 256.5 yards (-115)

Najee Harris Total Rushing Yards

  • Over 71.5 yards (-115)
  • Under 71.5 yards (-115)

The Steelers made Najee Harris the first running back off the board at No .24 overall in April’s draft. The Alabama product was as NFL-ready as any other player at his position in the draft, and the Steelers used a premium pick on him for a reason. James Conner left as a free agent this offseason, and Harris came in to become his full-time replacement.

The NFL Doesn’t Have Many Every-Down Backs These Days, but Harris Is an Exception

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been happy to give him a heavy workload from day one. The rookie leads all NFL running backs in total snaps (280), with an average of 56.2 offensive plays per game. Harris has been on the field even more than stalwarts like Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara.


Through his first five games as a pro, the 23-year-old has rushed 78 times for 307 yards with a couple of touchdowns. That average of 3.9 yards per carry leaves plenty to be desired, but at least he’s getting the reps. Harris has at least 10 carries in every game, including a season-high 23 last week in the win over Denver. The rook responded with his first 100-yard rushing effort, and he scored his third total touchdown of the young season.

Seattle’s defense has been terrible against both the pass and the run. The Seahawks have yielded 145.2 rushing yards per game through five weeks, which is the second-worst mark in football. Only the Chargers have been more porous against the run. We know Harris will do plenty of his damage in the passing game with Roethlisberger’s newfound love of the checkdown, but I also think the over on 71.5 rushing yards is very attainable in this spot.

Harris has only topped 71.5 rushing yards once through five games, but I’m not concerned. This is a glorious matchup for him, and I think he’ll pay this one off pretty easily. Bet the over.

Harris Total Rushing Yards –Over 71.5 yards (-115)

DK Metcalf Total Receiving Yards

  • Over 61.5 yards (-115)
  • Under 61.5 yards (-115)

If the Seahawks are going to go into Heinz Field and steal this one, they’re going to need DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to give Geno Smith some help. Pete Carroll may try to take pressure off of Smith by relying more heavily on the ground game, but I’m not convinced they’re going to find much success in that regard.

So, Smith may have no choice but to take to the air. So far this season, Metcalf and Lockett have essentially split the work in this passing attack. Metcalf has 25 catches on 38 targets for 383 yards with five touchdowns. Lockett also has 25 catches, but on 35 targets with 390 yards and three scores.

Metcalf made the most of his limited work last week against Los Angeles, hauling in all five of his targets for 98 yards and a pair of TDs. That included a 23-yard strike from Smith early in the fourth quarter to bring Seattle to within two points before the Rams eventually pulled away.

Lockett is more of the big-play threat, while Metcalf can do damage all over the field. If Smith knows what he’s doing, he’ll try to feet Metcalf as often as he possibly can. I would think the Seahawks would have more confidence in Smith connecting on short and intermediate routes, which may give the edge to Metcalf among the top two targets in this offense.

It’s close, but the over on 61.5 receiving yards for Metcalf looks attackable.

Metcalf Total Receiving Yards –Over 61.5 yards (-115)

Tyler Lockett Total Receiving Yards

  • Over 57.5 yards (-115)
  • Under 57.5 yards (-115)

Metcalf went off last week, while Lockett was relatively quiet. He did receive twice as many targets (10) as Metcalf did, but he didn’t find the end zone on his way to five catches and 57 yards through the air. Lockett has scored three touchdowns on the season, but he hasn’t found paydirt since Week 2 against the Titans.

The 29-year-old began the season with back-to-back 100-yard explosions, but he hasn’t topped 57 yards in a game ever since. I think Smith will be looking to get Metcalf heavily involved on Sunday night, which may leave Lockett out in the cold.

Of course, it only takes one play for a deep threat like Lockett to crush the over on 57.5 receiving yards. I would just have much more confidence in that happening with Russell Wilson under center. I prefer the over on Metcalf, while the under on Lockett looks like a good bet, as well.

Lockett Total Receiving Yards –Under 57.5 yards (-115)
Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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